South Africa: JSC lets politics trump conscience and excellence

Article here. Excerpt:

'The present incarnation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) moves the goalposts so often that candidates for appointment to the bench sometimes appear to find themselves with a football on a golf fairway.

During the rerun of interviews last week for positions at the Constitutional Court, senior counsel Dali Mpofu questioned the candidature of two white men – advocate Alan Dodson SC and Gauteng high court judge David Unterhalter – and suggested their appointment would hinder transformation. This was despite the court, for the first time in its history, not having any white men on its bench. Consequently, the constitutional requirement that the court “broadly” reflects the demographics of South Africa did not exclude either of them.

On paper, the candidates’ careers as public interest lawyers (and experience in other fields of law that could bolster capacity at the Constitutional Court); their jurisprudence in the high court, land claims court and Supreme Court of Appeal; and adjudicative work at international bodies like the World Trade Organization and United Nations suggested they were “fit and proper”.'

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